Patient mobile telephone 'text' reminder: a novel way to reduce non-attendance at the ENT out-patient clinic

J Laryngol Otol. 2008 Mar;122(3):296-8. doi: 10.1017/S0022215107007906. Epub 2007 May 1.


Background: Non-attendance at out-patient clinics is a seemingly intractable problem, estimated to cost 65 pounds sterling (97 euros) per incident. This results in under-utilisation of resources and prolonged waiting lists. In an effort to reduce out-patient clinic non-attendance, our ENT department, in conjunction with the information and communication technology department, instigated the use of a mobile telephone short message service ('text') reminder, to be sent out to each patient three days prior to their out-patient clinic appointment.

Objective: To audit non-attendance rates at ENT out-patient clinics following the introduction of a text reminder system.

Study design: Retrospective review.

Methods: Non-attendance at our institution's ENT out-patient clinics was audited, following introduction of a text message reminder system in August 2003. Rates of non-attendance were compared for the text message reminder group and a historical control group.

Results: Before the introduction of the text message reminder system, the mean rate of non-attendance was 33.6 per cent. Following the introduction of the system, the mean rate of non-attendance reduced to 22 per cent.

Conclusion: Sending text message reminders is a simple and cost-effective way to improve non-attendance at ENT out-patient clinics.

MeSH terms

  • Appointments and Schedules*
  • Cell Phone* / economics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outpatient Clinics, Hospital / economics
  • Patient Compliance* / statistics & numerical data
  • Reminder Systems / economics
  • Reminder Systems / instrumentation*
  • Retrospective Studies